Four do the Coniston 14

On Saturday 19th March, 4 Harriers made the journey North to the Lakes. Their aim, to conquer the Coniston 14 race.

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I arrived in plenty of time and parked up on John Ruskin school field. I love Coniston and have been there many times racing. Last year I had taken part in the Coniston 14 race but shin problems meant I left down heartened, I was determined that this year would be different. I was training well and had high hopes of a sub 1hr 45 time. I met up briefly with Andy Ratcliffe, Warren and Karen. We had a quick brew and discussed the race. Soon after I was doing an easy mile warm up enjoying the views of the lake and surrounding hills.

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At 10.50am, the Harriers contingent met up for pre race pictures and before long we were in the masses waiting for the start. At 11am, we were off. Andy soon disappeared and Karen and I saw Warren just ahead but gradually pulling away. The first mile and a half was a constant uphill, the largest ascent of the race. Karen and I weaved through the masses and were soon in space. By mile 3 we were in Torver and going downhill at last! We had lost sight of the lake by now.

This continued for a mile and I had lost Karen by now but knew she wouldn’t be too far behind me. Eventually I was running and the sun was peeping through the clouds at times. There’s something about running in the countryside that makes it that bit more special. I went through 10k in about 43m40s (which was over 1 min quicker than my Blackburn 10k race back in February and on a hillier route). That was when I made my choice. I’ve always given every race I do 100% and tried to run to a plan. My brain and legs were saying ease up as there’s more hills to come. Part of me was willing myself to push on, keep going. I can’t explain it, it’s like I had an angel on one shoulder saying stick to the plan, ease up and a devil on the other saying death or glory. I opted for the devil inside me and held my pace.

From 7-10 miles was a constant rhythm of inclines followed by a downhill. My quads were screaming in the ups, my calves on the way down. I was steadily passing people but holding my pace.

At mile 11 I was at the bottom of THE hill. This was the hill that everyone who completes this race winces in terror as they recall it. Just as you’re tiring and getting mentally preoare for the run in, you hit an uphill of constant false tops. Just as you think it’s funny vet, it goes up again. 130+ft of uphill in less than a mile.

Here I made an error of judgement. My devil said go on… I went. I pushed hard up the hill. My legs were aching but I was soon up it. On the following incline though I got jelly legs. I lost my rhythm and wobbled. People were passing me in a constant steam and I couldn’t do anything. My pace had slowed and I was worrying my call on 10k was the wrong one and I was now paying the price…

On about 12.5 miles, Karen has caught me up and I tucked in just behind her trying to hang on for dear life. Before long I was at the 13 mile marker and passed the 13.1 half marathon sign. I’d done the half distance in 1hr 37mins and 20 something seconds. I was only a couple of mins outside my half marathon PB (which I got on a flat course). This inspired me to push on and I did. I surged. Every muscle in my leg was aching and I felt like I was running in sand. As I entered the centre of Coniston, the crowds clapping and cheering spurred me on again. I heard a, “Go on Wigan!” and I went again. By now I felt like I was flying. I found fed the last corner and just out everything into the finish. I crossed the line, stopped my watch and held back the sensation to vomit…

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I felt dizzy and horrible and lay down. After a few mins, I stood up and looked at my watch. My time was 1hr 42mins and 53secs. I’d beaten my time from 2015 by over 4 minutes. The devil had been right. As much as it hurt me, I’m going to start listening to him a bit more when I’m out running. Not in my day to day life mind, just to clear that up…

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Harriers versus the UK’s finest

The National Cross Country Championships at Donnington Park took place on 27th February. Against a back drop of jet aircraft and race cars it was a rare opportunity for a small group of Harriers to pit themselves against the best runners in the UK.

Representing the club were four very keen Cross Country runners (Well you have got to be keen to drive all the way to Donnington Park and run in mud!). Running the U15 Boy’s race was Jack Dee-Ingham. Jack’s Cross Country season has name checked all the Schools, District, County XC’s going, achieving considerable success enroute. Today was another opportunity to challenge himself against the best. Running the Senior Men’s race was Mark Hillam-Morgan, Mike Harris and Team manager Steve Nicholls.

The pressure on Steve was clearly evident as he collected the team race numbers.

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The mad charge of the U15 Boy’s race. Later the ground would be shaking as 1,800 men shot across the open ground.

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Jack finished his race strongly and yes there was actually some green grass for a change, the Northerns were just an unpleasant memory. A brilliant performance 22nd place in 17:19. Well done Jack.

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All smiles at the end.

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Later it was time for the senior men.

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By now Steve’s apprehensive look 😳 had migrated into a look of a deranged mad man (apologies for offending any deranged mad men reading this report!). Weather conditions were cool but great for XC running. A recce of the course reveal lots of firm ground so our Harriers were eagerly looking forward to something likely to be much more pleasant than Witton Park. Only later did we discover that the sections of the course we missed out in the warm up were quite heavy mud that stuck to your shoes. This and multiple undulations made it trickier than it looked.

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The course included a passage through a cabbage field, trodden down it smells of…..cabbage, nice!  😝

From the start Mark led the Harriers, not surprising after the stellar Cross Country season he had. Steve also shot off fast at the start which would help avoid the bottleneck as the course funnelled down from the opening field. One poor chap went down and probably resembled a colandar by the time he picked himself up as there was no room to manoeuvre. By the end of the first lap of three it started to thin into what resembled a more normal race. Gradually over the 2nd lap Mike caught Steve. The third lap looked like it would be a battle for 2nd and 3rd Harrier home as Mike passed Steve at the start of this final circuit. No such worries for Mark, he was well clear and probably stopping for family photos with his supporters such was his advantage.

The final placings after a tussle on the last…

Mark Morgan-Hillam 54:29 🏅

Mike Harris 57:56

Steve Nicholls 59:14

By now Steve was managing a flicker of a smile! 😄

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Well done to all the Harriers who made the trip which turned out to the last Cross Country race of the season with Cuerden Valley cancelled.

 

Pauline Taylor

To Run or not to Run – Pauline’s Story by Alan Taylor

As you all know, my wife Pauline has been a devoted member of the Wigan Harriers Group for some time now and thoroughly enjoys the time spent training and entering the numerous events throughout the year. As I am also now part of the great friendly team that is Wigan Harriers, I thought I’d share Pauline’s story in the hope that I can inspire others to get out there and start running!

Pauline’s has been a really remarkable journey and truly is the tale of how it’s possible to battle against the odds and make huge achievements that you may never have thought possible.

Back in September 2008, sitting by the side of a fountain on holiday in Tenerife, is where Pauline’s inspirational journey began. After years of failed knee operations and the restricted mobility that resulted, Pauline won’t mind me sharing that fact that she certainly piled the weight on – reaching 14½ stone. She hadn’t been able to exercise for years and basically had to sit in the chair at home, having been forced to give up her job as a nurse. In constant pain and discomfort, she decided that the time had come to take matters into her own hands and do something about it.

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So on return from that holiday, she joined Slimming World, became a member of a local gym and signed up for personal training. Those who know Pauline well will tell you that she’s a very determined lady – and determined she was, as during the course of the next 9 months she dropped 6 stone, totally transformed the way she looked and more importantly, thrived on exercise.

Sport in general and certainly running was something that Pauline had never been able to do due to loads of medical problems she’d suffered over the years, in particular the major problems she had with her right knee and then the knee replacement operations (of which she’s had three) certainly didn’t help. She’d had loads of hospital stays over many years as things always seemed to go wrong, losing the first two knee replacements due to infection. At one point she was told there was a real risk of losing her leg! She was on crutches for the best part of 14 years which has consequently played havoc on her shoulders and neck – but she never gives up. When she got into regular exercise and lost weight, for some strange reason all she really wanted to do was run, possibly the one thing she actually shouldn’t have done

Her first real running effort was early in 2010, when she took herself off to the Rainford By-Pass on her own and gave it a go but soon realised that she couldn’t really do the running action, so she got back into the car and drove home. But Pauline being Pauline, she persevered and in May 2010 entered the Race For Life at Pennington Flash. She carried on running on her own with slow improvements and then entered the Tatton Park 10K which was in September 2012

She first contacted Tim Pilkington at Harriers in July 2012 prior to the 10k. He encouraged her to come down to the group and try it out. She plucked up the courage to turn up on her own and one of the first friendly faces she saw was Pat Cole. You could say at that point that the “Two P’s” were formed and the rest is simply history.

With Harriers, Pauline has gone from strength to strength, met some amazing friends and achieved things that she would have never dreamt of in a million years thanks to the support and encouragement of everyone at the Club. She carried on entering 5K and 10K competitions, then half marathons, and then the Chester Marathon in 2013.

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Pauline’s achievements certainly influenced my decision to join Harriers and I too thoroughly enjoy the training, competitions, friendly banter and the devotion of those who make the club so special.

I guess one of the reasons for me writing this, is to inspire and encourage those who may be thinking about joining the club and who maybe think they’re not good enough or quick enough. Pauline’s journey in my opinion is testament to what can be achieved if you put your mind to it and I have to say how truly supportive members of Harriers have been. You could say that she’s defied the odds in that people who have had knee replacements aren’t supposed to run – certainly not marathons!! But it just goes to show that if you put your mind to it, what you can achieve.

So don’t hesitate – join this amazing group of runners, have fun and keep fit.

WE ARE CHAMPIONS!!

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Congratulations everyone we are WINNERS! The Mid Lancs XC season is concluded with just the five fixtures due to Cuerden Valley cancellation.

Roll of honour

Ladies Division One status retained
Ladies V35 League winners
Ladies V45 League winners

Men Division Two runners up and promotion
Men V40 Division One status retained
Men B Team Division Three status retained

A fantastic haul, well done to everyone who raced or supported. A brilliant Harriers performance.

2015-16 Final team standings

2015-16 Final individual standings

Important – Presentation evening, Friday 8th April at Bamber Bridge

Here’s a few memories of the season.😀

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Don’t worry if you didn’t manage to fit one in….Red Rose League will start in September, not long to wait!!

 

Cleveleys Mid Lancs Cross Country

Marathon training is simply not helpful when trying to find the time to write these reports so apologies for the delayed publication….

Fifth fixture in the Mid Lancs Cross Country series was the “Harry Potteresque” Rossall School at coastal town Cleveleys. A new venue so an unknown for all the Harriers.

It was Dave Waddington who said to me once, “with Cross Country you never know who is going to be there, sometimes people just turn up out of the blue”. With busy lives people often make a last minute decision to turn up….and turn up they did in droves! 😀

Such was the steady flow of Harriers arriving on Saturday, that the “Club Statman” was frantically borrowing fingers to help count up the numbers, hoping the magical two team barrier would be broken through for only the second time this season. It was all too much, ten fingers were not cutting it.

Well done to the Club juniors who competed in the early races and their families and coaches for supporting them.

The ladies were missing a few regular faces so an ideal opportunity for a few others to make their mark and continue the Harriers success steamroller. At V35 and V45 level they have flattened the opposition all year. First or second in their league in every fixture, tremendous performances. What would today bring?

Well it appeared the ladies steamroller had been out on the course when we arrived as apart from a couple of grassy banks it was pancake flat. Being a new course warm ups were an ideal opportunity to suss out the course.

Weather conditions were a little chilly but a great change from all the recent rains. ⛅️

Turning out with remnants of a cough was number one lady Jayne Taylor, keen to help the ladies to league victory. The presentation buffet an overwhelming thought. 🍰 Jayne was aided and abetted by 5 superstar ladies.

This meant the ladies had enough runners out for A and B teams plus V35 & V45 teams – another fantastic effort. These teams scooped 5th, 25th, 2nd & 5th respectively consolidating their already impressive league positions.

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Next up were the men. After starting the season slowly the men were gradually warming to the task. Promotion from Division 2 and keeping B team status in Division 3 were still looking possible, which would be a great result to accompany the probable female success.

After warm ups the men were sheltering from the fresh breeze in the comfort of team HQ. Gary Fitzpatrick shook up this status quo with a few bursts of deep heat spray. This was enough to force most of the men out gasping for air.

The men managed to field a staggering 17 (yes seventeen!!) runners. With so much Harriers interest there was some fascinating personal battles and some excellent debuts. Well done to the men who all ran very committed races producing a stunning result.

A team were a brilliant 4th and more importantly a very strong B team waded in with a great 11th place, vital for the hopes of maintaining Division 3 status. For the old boys…3rd V40 & 9th V50 were also marvelous results.

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And off they went, a legion of Harriers into battle.

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A selection of race photos, the order got mixed up a little in uploading. Thanks to our on course photography team.

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Here’s a link to the full results, well done everyone involved.

Cleveley XC results

The trip back was broken up with the obligatory coffee stop – such are the club numbers we will have to start booking our cafe stops!

It’s easy to see this was one of the best fixtures of the season for the club but it was only made possible by a healthy turnout of Harriers. The last fixture is this coming Saturday at a very local Cuerden Valley Park. Please do all you can to either run or come along and support. With a strong Harriers contingent we have the possibility of completing one of the best Cross Country seasons yet.

Thank you.